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Bible Correspondence Course

15. The Great Teacher — Parables

The Parable of the Lost Son

"There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.

Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.

After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no-one gave him anything.

When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.

Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'

The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'

'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'" (Luke 15:11-32).

Although the teaching ministry of Sayyidna Isa Kalimatu'llah (his peace be upon us) was only three and a half years long; it could be said that He was the most important teacher ever to have walked the earth. His great miracles, together with the compassion of His words and deeds show that He lived out the new way of life that He taught.

1) How Sayyidna Isa bin Maryam taught

His teaching was simple. He used words the common people could understand and took His illustrations from things His listeners were familiar with. Sayyidna frequently taught through parables. A parable is a true-to-life story with a spiritual meaning. In this lesson we will study a few of them.

“I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world” (Matthew 13:35).

What Sayyidna Isa taught are the most important lessons for living a life that is spent in submission and love for God. In the Injil, we find through the teachings of Isa Kalimatu'llah, complete instruction and guidance that should be treasured and obeyed. God has graciously given us His eternal Word Sayyidna Isa Kalimatu'llah, as well as the Bible, so we can live in truth and righteousness.

Once Sayyidna Isa was asked what the most important commandment from God is. ‘“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”’[1]

2) The Parable of the Lost Son

Sayyidna Isa bin Maryam told this parable in response to complaints from the religious leaders, the Pharisees, because they did not like the way He talked and accepted those who were obviously sinful. Through this parable, Sayyidna Isa bin Maryam intended to show that God is most merciful and gracious; receiving even the most wicked person who repents and turns to Him.

3) God’s Kingdom

One of the greatest themes of Sayyidna Isa Kalimatu'llah’s teaching was God’s Kingdom. His first message was, “The time has come. The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”[2]

When Sayyidna Isa al-Masih spoke of the Kingdom of God He was inviting people to enter into it. Sayyidna Isa told many parables to describe what God’s Kingdom is like.

4) The Parable of the Sower

"A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop - a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown” (Matthew 13:3-9).

As we know, the growth of crop depends largely on the kind of ground that the seed has fallen on. The lesson that Sayyidna Isa Kalimatu'llah is teaching in this parable, found in Matthew 13:3-9, is that if our hearts are hard, bitter, and filled with pride, then even if the good seed comes to us, in learning about His Kingdom, we won’t accept it. However, if we surrender to God’s will in our lives the Kingdom of God will be within us.

5) A Hidden Treasure

On another occasion Sayyidna Isa bin Maryam told of a treasure hidden in a field. A merchant found it "... and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought the field."[3] It is true that when we find the Kingdom of God, we receive much joy, but there is a price to be paid. Our becoming a member of the Kingdom of God and following Sayyidna Isa al-Masih may offend many people. Our own joy and desire to share that joy may well make some people around us uncomfortable. We may lose friends, brothers and sisters. Our families may well turn against us. Joining this Kingdom of God may mean the loss of a job, imprisonment, or even death. Sayyidna Isa al-Masih recognises that you may have to pay a high price to come into this Kingdom but it is still more than worth it. As Sayyidna said, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”[4]

At one time some of the Pharisees asked Sayyidna Isa al-Masih when the Kingdom of God would come, He replied, "The Kingdom of God does not come visibly, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is in you."[5] Many people who were listening to Sayyidna Isa were longing for a political revolution. They wanted Sayyidna to be their Messiah in a political sense, to overthrow the Roman rulers and release them from their bondage. However, this was not His mission.[6] He taught that God's kingdom was a universal kingdom, not restricted to any particular people. This is why He told them that this kingdom is within human hearts. One can become a member of this kingdom by following Sayyidna Isa al-Masih in love and obedience.

6) Assurance for His followers

Sayyidna Isa al-Masih taught that the Kingdom of God gives His followers assurance about the future and the day of judgement. Sayyidna taught that at the day of judgement He will say to those who have chosen to follow His way, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world."[7]

References:

  1. [1] Mark 12:29-31
  2. [2] Mark 1:14-15
  3. [3] Matthew 13:44
  4. [4] Luke 9:24
  5. [5] Luke 17:2-21
  6. [6] John 6:15
  7. [7] Matthew 25:34

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